Bulldogs screech past Eudora
Homecoming game lost 33-32
Eudora High School football coach Gregg Webb wanted to see how his squad would respond in a close game.
Now, the first-year Eudora coach hopes the Cardinals can bounce back from a shocking loss.
"There were so many opportunities for us to end the game it was just ridiculous that we couldn't put them away when we had to," Webb said. "We just handed it to them."
The Cardinals (5-1) continued to have problems with teams Friday night. After senior running back Andrew Pyle, 36 rushes for 105 yards, scored the first of his three touchdowns, Eudora gave up its third kickoff return of the season.
Baldwin took a 7-6 lead off junior Andy Hannon's kickoff return. It was the first time this season Eudora trailed an opponent.
The missed extra point haunted the Cardinals as they failed to convert a two-point conversion after a subsequent touchdown. Webb said it ultimately might have cost the team a victory.
"We were trying to get back to 21," he said. "We had that game in control until the last four minutes of the game."
Junior quarterback Tyler Cleveland, 4-10 for 59 yards and one interception, eluded a Baldwin defender and completed a 27-yard pass to senior tight end Kaleb Niedens, who ran for extra yardage on the play.
The Cards appeared to be in control at halftime with a pair of touchdowns from Pyle and senior Tyler Jackson, 13 rushes for 216 yards and two touchdowns. Eudora led the Bulldogs 20-13 at the intermission.
Webb was pleased with Jackson's production but said that all three starters in the backfield were nursing injuries.
"Tyler (Jackson) is a tough kid, and we're not asking him to run for 200 yards every game," Webb said. "Our offensive line did a nice job blocking."
Jackson also added six tackles at linebacker and forced a fumble.
Webb said Pyle was only playing at about 60 to 70 percent Friday. Senior powerback Luke Powers, three carries for 13 yards and two receptions for 22 yards, was playing with a knee problem, and Jackson excelled despite a knee injury. However, Webb said the Cardinals should play well as long as the offensive line was doing its job.
"In a program like this, one kid should not be the difference of winning or losing football games," Webb said. "When we were at Claflin, we plugged another kid in there and the ball rolled on."
In the second half, Baldwin junior running back Micah Mason, 15 carries for 50 yards and two touchdowns, caused problems for the Cardinals defensive unit.
Webb doesn't think the Eudora defense has been up to par this season despite consecutive shutouts against Paola and Wellsville.
"We didn't play well defensively whatsoever, and our whole defense needs to get better," Webb said. "They exploited our mistakes terribly. It should be interesting to see what direction our team (takes)."
Pyle scored on a five-yard run to give the Cards what seemed to be a comfortable 26-13 lead.
Baldwin junior quarterback Jason Kesinger, 4-for-8 for 159 yards and two touchdowns, connected with Mason on a long pass that set up a Mason two-yard rushing touchdown with 1:50 left in the third quarter. Baldwin senior kicker Justin Goff was nearly automatic Friday as the Bulldogs trailed 26-20.
Cleveland and Pyle drove the Cardinals into the red zone before Cleveland fumbled with 7:23 remaining in the game. Senior Dustin Moyer, six tackles and a sack, recovered Mason's fumble a minute later (6:30). Jackson added his second touchdown with 5:32 remaining in the game, but once again Eudora couldn't score on the two-point conversion.
The Bulldogs (4-2) were determined to make a run at their Douglas County rivals. With 5:12 left, Mason found senior Ryne Jackson on a halfback pass play for a 58-yard touchdown pass. Eudora junior Joey Donahue blocked Goff's extra point, keeping the score at 32-26.
With 2:55 remaining, the Eudora defense was able to make a big stop. With Donahue covering Hannon, a dangerous receiver, sophomore Cole Massey, seven tackles, senior Joe Born, six tackles, and sophomore Chris Durkin, team-leading eight tackles, contained Baldwin on third and four.
The Cardinals faced a third and three with 1:05 left in the game, but couldn't hang on to the ball. Cleveland recovered his own fumble, but the Cards were forced to punt.
On the next series, Kesinger found senior receiver Brian Lauridsen with 41 seconds, knotting the game at 32. Goff added the extra point to give the Bulldogs a 33-32 lead and the eventual victory.
Webb said the Cardinals defensive backs were trying to deflect or intercept a pass, but the Bulldogs were able to make a key play.
"It was just a freak deal," Webb said. "We had kids in the right position, but we didn't make a play on the ball."
Webb said the Cardinals, who had homecoming Friday night, couldn't dwell on the 33-32 setback. He hoped the team would respond by playing better in close games.
"We didn't say a whole lot after the game," Webb said. "They felt bad enough so we told them to keep their heads up. We hope it will help us in the long run."
Born said the team got the message.
"We just need to work as a team," he said. "If we can do that, we can get pretty far."
Born said the Cards should have won the game but mistakes fueled Baldwin's momentum.
""We were winning going into the fourth quarter, but it was our simple mistakes that we need to correct," Born said. "The more mistakes we made, the more energy it gave them."
Webb said he hoped Eudora would be ready to play at De Soto (3-3) in the opening game of district play. The Wildcats, under third-year coach Brad Scott, tripled their win total of the past two seasons this year.
"They are not going to be a pushover," Webb said. "They have a couple of kids that can make your night very difficult. Coming off a loss, you always have a lot of question marks in the back of your mind."
De Soto senior running back Michael Allen is being recruited by several Big 12 football programs and senior quarterback Greg Francis, a three-year starter, has given the Cats some experience in the passing game.
The Wildcats have defeated Leavenworth Immaculata, Lansing, and Anderson County and led undefeated Santa Fe Trail (6-0) 7-6 at halftime Friday before losing 20-7.